So, we know that the typical 4 Step Program doesn’t work. However, steps 1 (reducing quantity) and 4 (exercise) aren’t exactly necessary if you change steps 2 (changing food) and 3 (feeding mealtime), particularly step 2. It really all comes down to the type of food you feed your cat.
While reducing the quantity of food and feeding mealtime only can be helpful, it won’t be unless you change the type of food that is being fed. By feeding the wrong type of food while reducing the quantity, you will essentially be starving your cat. The cat requires high levels of protein in its diet and will begin utilizing its own organs and muscle (digesting them) if given a reduced protein diet or a reduced quantity of food thereby reducing the protein load. The majority of overweight cats are eating a free-choice dry diet. The problem is threefold: too many carbohydrates, not enough animal protein and not enough animal fat. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they require certain nutrients that they cannot synthesize which are only found in meat and are able to metabolize only a small amount of carbohydrates.
Diet changes are usually recommended, these include commercial reduced-fat or high-fiber diets. However, feeding your cat a reduced fat diet is essentially the equivalent of starving your cat. Don’t fall prey to this ideology. Felines require animal protein and animal fat to thrive. And feeding a high fiber diet can lead to many other medical conditions such as IBS and loss of nutrients.
Dry food typically contains a minimum of 30% carbohydrates. Cat food should ideally contain almost none! When one nutrient is decreased, the other(s) need to be increased to reach 100%. For most commercial dry foods, this means increasing the carbohydrates. And yes, corn does contain protein, but cats are not cows. They require animal protein and fat.
Research published in 2011 states that cats ideally choose a diet consisting of:
- Not less than 52% protein content
- Not less than 36% fat content and
- Not more than 12% carbohydrate content
Moreover, cats evolved as desert creatures and as such inherently receive almost all of their water intake from their food. Most cats do not drink enough free water daily to compensate for the low water content found in dry food. Many cats would have to drink 7 – 9 ounces of water per day.
Feeding a dry high carbohydrate diet coupled with a low animal protein/fat diet leads the cat to continuously eat, trying to attain the high animal protein and fat loads it requires. Unlike humans, cats cannot utilize carbohydrates efficiently, strictly because they do not have the enzymes to do so. And just like humans, unused carbohydrates turn to fat in the body helping to promote obesity.
Visit the sister site to this blog to learn more about plant versus animal products in the cat’s diet as well as other information showing how cats as obligate carnivores require meat.